Yorkshire and the eastern part of the region was to be covered by a
transmitter on Emley Moor in the West Riding of Yorkshire. When
GranadaTV launched on 3 May 1956, however, only the Winter
COOKE PRINT.indd 48
Hill transmitter was operational. It was not until 3 November 1956
that the Emley Moor transmitter came into operation, which meant
that for six months nearly five million people in the east of the region
could not receive Granada’s programmes. When fully operational
the region which Sidney Bernstein
In late 1968, GranadaTelevision
converted a former railway building in central Manchester into a studio
theatre and hired a group of actors, including John Fraser, Maureen
Lipman, Richard Wilson and John Shrapnel. This was the start of The
Stables Theatre Company, which was conceived and run by Gordon
McDougall. The intention was to present plays, musicals and revues on
This pioneering study examines regional British television drama from its beginnings on the BBC and ITV in the 1950s to the arrival of Channel Four in 1982. It discusses the ways in which regionalism, regional culture and regional identity have been defined historically, outlines the history of regional broadcasting in the UK, and includes two detailed case studies – of Granada Television and BBC English Regions Drama – representing contrasting examples of regional television drama production during what is often described as the ‘golden age’ of British television. The conclusion brings the study up to date by discussing recent developments in regional drama production, and by considering future possibilities. A Sense of Place is based on original research and draws on interviews by the author with writers, producers, directors and executives including John Finch, Denis Forman, Alan Plater, David Rose, Philip Saville and Herbert Wise. It analyses a wide range of television plays, series and serials, including many previously given little attention such as The Younger Generation (1961), The Villains (1964-65), City ’68 (1967-68), Second City Firsts (1973-78), Trinity Tales (1975) and Empire Road (1978-79). Written in a scholarly but accessible style the book uncovers a forgotten history of British television drama that will be of interest to lecturers and students of television, media and cultural studies, as well as the general reader with an interest in the history of British television.
labour in relation to this obligation to produce educational material: some chose to make films about natural history, others about opera or ballet, others again about the visual arts. The holder of the franchise for the northwest of England, GranadaTelevision, based in Manchester, chose to support the making of ethnographic films.
Why GranadaTelevision should chose ethnographic film-making in fulfilment of its educational remit was due to a set of entirely fortuitous personal
between their unions and GranadaTelevision management. These dealt with such matters as crewing numbers, overtime rates and meal breaks and often greatly constrained the way in which the crews could work on location. These production conditions therefore had a direct impact on the collective authorial praxis of the Disappearing World strand.
For most of the period that the strand was in production, the management and unions at GranadaTelevision worked to a general agreement whereby a documentary crew would normally consist of a team of at least
and of different broadcasting or ﬁlmmaking traditions.
Seven Up 1
The Seven Up series had its origins in May 1964 when GranadaTelevision transmitted a one-off ‘special’ in their World in Action series.
Granada was already making a reputation for itself as a company
with a clear, left-leaning political agenda and World in Action was its
ﬂagship current affairs programme. Michael Apted, later to become
director of the Seven Up series, had a relatively junior role to play
in the making of this World in Action special. Having only joined
Granada the previous year on a
In this edited collection, scholars use a variety of methodologies to explore the history of stage plays produced for British television between 1936 and the present. The volume opens with a substantial historical outline of the how plays originally written for the theatre were presented by BBC Television and the ITV companies as well as by independent producers and cultural organisations. Subsequent chapters analyse television adaptations of existing stage productions, including a 1937 presentation of a J. B. Priestley play by producer Basil Dean; work by companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stoke-on-Trent’s Victoria Theatre and the Radical Alliance of Poets and Players; the verbatim dramas from the Tricycle Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland; and Mike Leigh’s comedy Abigail’s Party, originally staged for Hampstead Theatre and translated to the Play for Today strand in 1977. Broadcast television’s original productions of classic and contemporary drama are also considered in depth, with studies of television productions of plays by Jacobean dramatists John Webster and Thomas Middleton, and by Henrik Ibsen and Samuel Beckett. In addition, the volume offers a consideration of the contribution to television drama of the influential producer Cedric Messina who, between 1967 and 1977, oversaw BBC Television’s Play of the Month strand before initiating The BBC Television Shakespeare (1978–85); the engagement with television adaptations by modern editors of Shakespeare’s plays; and Granada Television’s eccentric experiment in 1969–70 of running The Stables Theatre Company as a producer for both stage and screen. Collectively, these chapters open up new areas of research for all those engaged in theatre, media and adaptation studies.
international marketplace the onus has fallen on the BBC, as a public service broadcaster,
to cater for regional audiences and retain elements of regional production, while at the same time striving to compete with ITV, BSkyB and
other companies in the new global environment.
In the light of these developments it is perhaps timely to review the
origins and development of regional television in Britain, paying particular attention to a dominant form of television production – drama
– and the output of two important regional producers – GranadaTelevision and BBC English
six episodes, to the
fifteen episodes of Empire Road, although its ratio of filmed drama to
studio drama was probably higher than that of Granada, the BBC
investing more in filmed drama during the 1970s than did Granada.1
Both Granada and BBC English Regions Drama were part of larger
organisations, GranadaTelevision being part of the Granada Group,
as well as part of the Independent Television network. But GranadaTV established a reputation early on in its history for being fiercely
independent within ITV, and this was an important factor in Granada
The origins of this book go back to the autumn of 2005 when I
attended a joint presentation given by Michael Apted and GranadaTelevision producer Jemma Jupp at the Shefﬁeld International Documentary Film Festival. Apted had recently completed the seventh
ﬁlm (49 Up) in his well-known Seven Up series and used the occasion
to reﬂect back on more than 40 years’ involvement in a project that
is perhaps the best-known example of a ‘longitudinal documentary’
(which for the sake of brevity I shall from now on refer to as ‘long
doc(s)’). In the course of